Does it distract and annoy you when someone near you in the office is crunching on potato chips while you’re trying to concentrate on your work?
Does it make you angry?
There is a condition — and a term — for when people have an adverse reaction to particular sounds. It’s called misophonia.
Who knew, eh?
Apparently, the term has been around for a while, but it has gotten some ink recently. ABC News had a piece about it on March 14. It says the adverse reactions to various sounds can include rage, terror, fear and panic.
Reports ABC News:
These trigger sounds are overwhelmingly generated by humans. About 80 per cent of them are related to the mouth, and about 60 per cent have a strong repetitive element. Trigger sounds include eating, chewing, footsteps, breathing, yawning, a cat licking its paws, and even the plosive sound of the letter P, as in ‘Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers’.
True confession: I have a touch of misophonia — though I didn’t have a label for the “condition” until I saw articles about it this month.
There’s no rage or terror or fear or panic in my case. It just bugs me big time when someone is crunching on something while I’m trying to concentrate. Of course, if I were crunching on something at the same time, the other person’s crunchy behavior wouldn’t bother me a bit.
But my misophonia isn’t limited to other people’s food crunching. I get really bugged by the clink-clanking and scraping of cutlery on plates when people are eating — and I’m not. No problem if I am clink-clanking and scraping along with them, though.
So, maybe the best way to deal with misophonia is “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”
But what if you can’t join ’em? What if everybody is eating and you can’t?
An experience like that happened to me while I laid in the ER of a hospital for a few days, being observed and waiting for surgery to have my gall bladder removed — after it had gone berserk at home. (I documented it all in this blog, and regular readers will no doubt remember the posts.)
Three times a day, orderlies would wheel in trays of food for all the other people in the ER, and there would be a great deal of clink-clanking and scraping of plates — not to mention the various aromas of food — and there I was, starving in my bed, listening to it all because I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything.
My misophonia acted up big time. I felt very annoyed. I felt angry. I felt like crying. Poor, pitiful me.
It was only for a few days, and I survived. There was no question of me starving to death in that ER, and I knew that all along. But I still had all those adverse feelings.
I was reminded of that incident at work yesterday, when a colleague was eating his lunch at his desk, and clink-clanking away with his cutlery and plate. I was slightly annoyed at first, and recalled my hospital experience and the aforementioned ABC News article.
But then I thought of a bigger, more dire picture: the fact that 23 million people are starving to death in Africa, and how difficult it must be for them to know that billions of people on the planet are clink-clanking their cutlery on plates full of food while they go without, while they slowly waste away and die.
Annoyed? How about “forsaken”?
Why have they been forsaken?
True. Their governments have let them down. Fanatical extremists have caused civil wars. There’s corruption everywhere.
But put yourself in the place of a woman or a man lying in the dirt, starving to death and knowing that the rest of us are clink-clanking away with our cutlery and plates.
I can’t say I have much of an appetite these days.
My heart is so heavy.
I cry for them.
Photo: Eating in a restaurant, something many starving people can only dream about. Credit: Foter.com